First impression Pentax K-50 and K-500 reviews: Could these be the best bang-for-the-buck DSLRs yet?


posted Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 5:00 PM EST


Today Pentax launched its two latest K-series DSLRs, the mid-level Pentax K-50 and entry-level Pentax K-500. The Pentax K-50 is a weather-sealed DSLR that succeeds the Pentax K-30, a richly featured camera that we loved for its impressive bang for the buck. The K-30 simply provided advanced photographic capabilities that no other camera could at its price. So you can see why we're excited about the Pentax K-50, because the DSLR not only ups the ante in terms of features and functionality, but also comes in at an even lower price. Which makes us wonder, how can Pentax do it?

Boasting a number of evolutionary upgrades, the Pentax K-50 comes equipped with a refined version of the K-series' 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor and PRIME M processor whose tweaks were designed to improve image quality. In particular, Pentax claims the K-50's sensor and processor work together to suppress jaggies (jagged lines) and reduce noise. And the DSLR now offers low-light sensitivity up to ISO 51,200 (something it shares with the higher-end Pentax K-5 II). The K-50 also gains WiFi capabilities via its Eye-Fi SD card compatability. Not only can you wirelessly share photos with your computer or smart devices, but the camera's built-in Eye-Fi controls let you choose and re-size images before sending them.


Also the Pentax K-50 comes in 120 different color combinations -- at no additional cost -- which is perfect for those who want their gear to match their personal style.

Which brings us back to the bang-for-the-buck question. The K-30 body originally retailed for US$849. But the K-50 body retails at $700, and kitted with the new, lightweight, weather-sealed DA-L 18-55mm WR lens costs just $780. Assuming that the K-50 is truly an upgrade in terms of image quality, this looks to be an incredible value-based proposition from Pentax. Who wouldn't want more for less?

Find out more by reading our first impressions Pentax K-50 review, where you can also see initial gallery images taken with a pre-production version of the camera.

Continuing the DSLR value argument, Pentax simultaneously introduced the Pentax K-500, a brand new DSLR that fills a gap in the company's lineup by providing a true entry-level model for consumers at a very attractive price. But here's the thing: The K-500 is no ordinary DSLR for beginners. It's packed with advanced photographic capabilities that rival the likes of what's found in the mid-level Canon T5i and Nikon D5200 -- but for a lot less money. (The obvious shortcoming, of course, being the K-500's 16.3-megapixel APS-C sensor, which significantly trails in resolution to the latest Canon and Nikon mid-level models.)


In fact, the K-500 is functionally the same DSLR as Pentax's simultaneously announced K-50 -- minus that camera's 81-point weather sealing and availability in 120 color combinations. If rain, sleet and snow don't figure into your shooting routine, then the K-500 should be on your DSLR short list, given it costs just US$600 paired with a DA-L 18-55mm lens, a combo that's $180 cheaper than the K-50 and DA-L 18-55mm WR weather-sealed kit.

Find out more by reading our first impressions Pentax K-500 review, where you can also see initial gallery images taken with a pre-production version of the camera.